Finding Teachers of Color: What the Gates Foundation Thinks

Public disclosure requests can sometimes yield the oddest things (seemingly not related to your request, no matter how narrowly you tailor it.)  Such is the case with my public disclosure request from OSPI around charter schools.

One e-mail in one batch was from sent in late Nov to various people in education from several districts including SPS about a meeting to discuss how to get attract more people of color to  teaching.  The e-mail was from the Gates Foundation's Edie Harding, Senior Program Officer, Pacific NW Initiative about their "DEW" work (Diversify the Educator Workforce.)

The one SPS invitee was Karen Harris who is an assistant principal at Beacon Hill Elementary.  (Ms Harris appears to have worked for the Martinez Foundation whose principal mission is to support teachers of color.  The Martinez Foundation has been moved to the Technology Access Foundation.)  I did ask the district if they knew about this effort but no one has answered back.

From the e-mail:

Because we just want to DEW it now!
Unfortunately, the documents attached to the e-mail did not come to me but I made a request and OSPI sent them.

There were four documents;
- General Questions - asking for reactions from participants on Gates' "theory of change" in the presentation

- graphic - Washington State Diversifying the Educator Workforce Theory of Change with final goal:
By 2030 30 % of teachers are teachers of color who stay for more than five years in selected regions with highest proportion of students of color 

- Diversifying the Educator Workforce Task Force, draft as of November 2015 

- agenda for the meeting on December 1, 2015

The paper is basically a review of teacher preparation programs, specifically in the NW but others are mentioned, with an eye to how to find and retain more teachers of color.  Those include:

Other states:
- Teacher Cadet Program in South Carolina 
- Teach Oregon 
Both encourage high school students to explore teaching through rigorous coursework.
- High Tech High, a public charter school in San Diego, created their own Graduate School of Education offering a credential, master’s degree and classroom training at one of 13 local charter schools – essentially building their own residency program.
- In Denver, the district works with the city on broad diversity and inclusion goals that promote recruitment, longevity and recognition of diverse candidates. 
- In Oakland, the district’s Teach Tomorrow provides support services and pays fees to become a teacher for those who make a five year commitment. Several Southern states have similar support programs that provide loan forgiveness and social support. 

They then go thru each teacher prep program in Washington State. They talk about SPS' Seattle Teacher Residency but say it's too small for the growth needed.  I had to smile when they got to TFA.

TFA has had a presence in Washington since 2011, but their footprint and cohort size is considerably smaller than in other states, although their cohorts have steadily increased in size. Teach for America has a successful model for developing a robust pipeline of educators. However, their goal is not teacher retention in the classroom, but rather getting fellows involved in the education sector as leaders with the classroom as an entry point. TFA has launched the careers of many education entrepreneurs, consultants, district leaders, and teachers. 

Yes, TFA has barely gotten a toehold here in the 5 years they have been in Washington State.  At least the Foundation is honest (more so than other ed reformers) - TFA is NOT there to create a teaching corps.  It's there to create an army of true believers who go forth in other careers.

One new thing I saw was this:

TFA’s national model allows them to charge school districts $3,000-$5,000 to place a fellow in their district, however, current Washington State policies prohibit them from charging districts a fee for their teachers so TFA is relying on charter schools as an immediate revenue resource in the state. TFA has partnerships with Green Dot and Summit Charter Management Organizations where the schools will fund TFA’s operating expenses at $5,000/ fellow). TFA plans to partner with the Grandview School District which has agreed to pay the fee for fellows pending change in state policy. 

With regard to school districts, the goal would be that they initially fund 15%-20% of the costs per fellow, ultimately reaching a 5- year goal of districts paying the $5,000 price tag. Grandview is currently the only district planning to participate. 

First, I had always seen the TFA fee from a low of $1K to a high of $10K.  Maybe that changed.  Second, I don't know what "Washington State policies" that the Foundation is referencing but I have never heard of it before this report.  Not one TFA person or any document that I found has revealed that to me.

And ding, ding, ding -  TFA is relying on charter schools as an immediate revenue resource in the state.

Of course, TFA is but charters need them as well. Charters need TFA for their more moldable teachers for their models.

Of course, this is puzzling because if charters are public schools and there are these "policies" about public districts not being charged fees for teachers, then how can Green Dot do this?  Or maybe, Green Dot is paying for this some other way.

Challenges include: strong resistance by the union to TFA corps members and Seattle Public Schools declined to participate after three years.

I found this short section interesting:

Overcoming the Educator Stigma
Young people of color and from high poverty backgrounds who are college ready, are often uninterested in teaching as a career due to their own negative schooling experience and the prospects of entering a profession where the beginning teacher salaries are low. 

Well, first, "stigma" is quite a loaded word and you'd think that if someone had a negative experience with teachers, becoming a good teacher might be one way to right that.  But my main point is that the "stigma" that the Gates Foundation attaches to teaching (at least in the eyes of young people of color) is that they left off Bill Gates' role in expanding that stigma.  He has finally backed off his somewhat harsh rhetoric about teachers but with someone like him and his reach, I think the damage is done.  It would have been something if this report had acknowledge ANY outside criticisms.

In other teacher prep news, just today there was an article in the Tri-City Herald about an accelerated program for districts in that region for paraeducators to become teachers.

Washington State University Tri-Cities received the grant from the Professional Educator Standards Board, a release said. The state will chip in with $8,000 scholarships for each student, covering the program over two years.

All three Tri-City school districts, along with the Prosser and Grandview school districts, will participate. The paraeducators will be able to substitute some of their current in-classroom experience for certain courses while taking other needed classes at the university’s Richland campus.

After earning their teaching degrees, each participant will be required to teach in the state for at least two years.

Read more here:


Jet City mom said…
Sounds like alot of ideas were discussed at this forum, but when is anyone going to follow up?

BTW, Ms Noel has been selected to meet with with Arne Duncan in DC in a couple weeks.
Jet City mom said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said…

--about time
Jet City mom said…
That article doesn't even mention Native Americans.
Why not worthy of inclusion?

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